Corn Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

corn nutrition facts
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Corn is a staple in cuisines all around the world. In the United States, nothing says summertime quite like corn on the cob. While plenty of people enjoy corn, many don't realize it's a very nutritious option.

Corn provides thiamin and other vitamins and minerals; one corn on the cob contains 88 calories. This budget-friendly and easy-to-find grain is also a good source of carbohydrates and is higher in protein than you might expect.

Corn Nutrition Facts

One medium-sized ear of corn (6 3/4" to 7 1/2" long) provides 88 calories, 1.4g of fat, 19g of carbohydrates, and 3.3g of protein. Corn is a good source of thiamin and also provides vitamin C, E, and A, some fiber, and potassium. This nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 88
  • Fat: 1.4g
  • Sodium: 15mg
  • Carbohydrates: 19g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 6.4g
  • Protein: 3.3g
  • Thiamin: 0.16mg
  • Vitamin C: 6.9mg
  • Potassium: 275mg
  • Iron: 0.5mg
  • Magnesium: 37.7mg
  • Zinc: 0.5mg
  • Vitamin B5: 0.7mg
  • Folate: 42.8mcg


There are 19 grams of carbohydrates in one ear of corn. Of those carbohydrates, fiber makes up 2 grams and natural sugars make up 6.4 grams. Corn is considered moderate on the glycemic index scale with a rating that falls between 56 and 69.

Note that if you consume corn with butter, fiber, or protein-containing foods, the glycemic effect will be substantially different than consuming it alone. Fats, fiber, and protein will slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream. The GI is a measure of foods eaten plain, in isolation, and does not have much bearing on foods eaten in meals.


Corn is naturally low in fat, with 1.4 grams per medium-sized ear. The majority of fat in corn is from heart-healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.


Corn has just over 3 grams of protein per ear. Compared to most vegetables, corn is higher in protein. That's because corn is technically not a vegetable at all, but rather a whole grain.

Vitamins and Minerals

Corn is a good source of thiamin, providing 13% of the daily value (DV) or 0.16mg. Corn also contains the nutrients potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium. It also provides folate, vitamins C and E, and vitamin A in the form of beta carotene.


One corn on the cob provides about 88 calories when consumed with no toppings. Of course, adding butter will also add calories and other nutrients, such as fat. One cup of corn (off the cob) provides about 125 calories.

The calories of a boiled ear of corn vs grilled will not differ unless you introduce another food item in preparation, such as salt, butter, oil, or some other toppings. It's possible that some of the vitamins and minerals could be lost in the boiling liquid, however.


Corn is a naturally low-fat food that provides about 88 calories per ear. Most of the calories come from carbohydrates, but corn also provides about 3.3 grams of protein. Corn also provides some fiber and is a good source of thiamin.

Health Benefits

Corn offers several health benefits beyond its vitamin and mineral content. Depending on the color, corn is rich in various antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds that protect against disease.

Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Polyphenols are beneficial plant compounds in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Purple corn owes its color to a type of polyphenol called anthocyanin, which has been shown to improve insulin regulation and glucose.

Including a variety of colorful, plant-based foods in your meal plan, like purple corn, is a proactive way to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Consider the carbohydrate count if you have diabetes and want to incorporate purple corn into your diet.

May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Corn is a good source of fiber that promotes the growth of "good bacteria" in the gut. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids to help prevent colon cancer. Eating fresh corn, popcorn, and other whole-grain corn products will ensure you get the most fiber out of your corn consumption.

Supports Weight Management

The most filling snacks are those high in protein and fiber, like popcorn. One cup of air-popped and unbuttered popcorn provides 31 calories, 1 gram protein, and 1 gram of fiber.

Popcorn is a whole grain snack that's minimally processed, especially when you make it fresh. Since snacks comprise about a third of most people's daily intake, choosing snack foods wisely can significantly impact body weight.

Protects Eyesight

Corn contains lutein and zeaxanthin, the forms of vitamin A that are especially beneficial for eye health. Because these compounds become concentrated in the retina, they are associated with preventing age-related macular degeneration.

The combination of lutein and zeaxanthin, along with vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, and zinc (also found in corn), has been shown to protect against this common cause of vision loss.

Promotes Heart Health

Corn provides several nutrients that offer proven cardiovascular benefits. The fiber in corn and other whole grains helps reduce cholesterol levels.

Potassium is well-known to keep blood pressure levels down, and corn contains about 6% of the daily value set by the FDA. Potassium is a "nutrient of public health concern" because not everyone consumes adequate amounts of it daily.

Corn also has a decent amount of magnesium, about 9% to 12% of adult needs. Consuming adequate amounts of magnesium in the diet reduces the risk of stroke and ischemic heart disease. Eating fresh corn, popcorn, or even canned corn (without added salt) can help protect your heart from long-term damage.


Food allergies to corn and environmental allergies to corn pollen are possible. Corn allergies are difficult to diagnose, but an elimination diet is often used to determine whether symptoms improve when corn is no longer consumed. Corn allergies are typically triggered by corn protein, so protein-free corn products like high-fructose corn syrup don't necessarily need to be avoided because of an allergy.

Symptoms of corn allergies may include hives, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and a weak pulse. If you suspect an allergy to corn, see an allergist for a professional evaluation.

Adverse Effects

Corn is one of the most genetically modified plants in the food supply. Genetically modified crops have altered DNA for various traits, such as resisting herbicide or increasing yield. One percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is sweet corn, and most are not genetically modified. Sweet corn can be found in frozen form, canned, or fresh. Genetically modified corn isn't used for human consumption but for livestock feed, fuel for cars, and oil used to make sunscreen and water bottles.

High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener derived from corn syrup. It's made by extracting corn kernels and treating them with an enzyme to make a thick, viscous syrup.

Although considered safe as other sweeteners by the FDA, high fructose corn syrup is prevalent in processed foods. It is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and other health conditions. Just as with other added sweeteners, you are limiting your intake of high fructose corn syrup is best.


There are four basic types of corn: dent corn, flint corn, popcorn, and sweet corn. Dent corn is also known as field corn. It's used for livestock feed and in food products. Flint corn is similar to dent corn but comes in various colors. It is considered ornamental corn and is commonly displayed for decoration. Popcorn has a tough outer shell and soft, starchy center that steams and explodes when heated.

Sweet corn is higher in starch and sugar. It's picked while still immature and tender. Sweet corn comes in white, yellow, or a combination of kernel colors. When you buy corn on the cob, it's sweet corn.

When It's Best

Fresh corn is in season during the summer months, from July through September. Choose corn that has firm, plump kernels. Skip any cobs with signs of mold, insects, or decay. You can find fresh corn in the stalks or already shucked.

Corn products, including canned and frozen corn, are available during any time of the year. Canned corn often comes in a cream sauce or added sugar or salt. Check the ingredients label to see what's in your product. Corn-based products like popcorn, cornmeal, corn starch, corn flour, corn grits, and porridge are available in grocery stores throughout the year.

Storage and Food Safety

Sweet corn is best eaten shortly after it's picked. The longer it sits, the less sweet it tastes. You can store corn in the refrigerator with the husks on or off. Raw corn that's been removed from the husk should be used within one or two days. Keep cooked corn in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Corn can also be frozen or canned at home. Use dry or preserved corn products by the dates specified on the product label.

How to Prepare

Corn is usually cooked, but raw corn is edible too. Cut the kernels off the cob and add them to salads or other favorite dishes for a sweet crunch.

Shucked corn (meaning the skins and husks have been removed) can be grilled, boiled, microwaved, or steamed. If you prefer, leave the husks on for roasting or grilling and remove them before eating.

Corn is naturally sweet and doesn't need very much added flavoring to taste good. Keep corn recipes simple to enjoy the natural flavor and nutrition that this whole grain offers.

19 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist, counseling patients with diabetes. Barbie was previously the Advanced Nutrition Coordinator for the Mount Sinai Diabetes and Cardiovascular Alliance and worked in pediatric endocrinology at The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center.